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The Forbidden Rice You Need to Eat

Forbidden rice, the mystical black grain that boasts more impressive health benefits than its brown, red, white and wild counterparts. Rich in antioxidants, dietary fiber, and nutrients this gluten free ancient grain can boost your health and prevent disease. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Forbidden Rice?

Forbidden rice is a black grain variety originating from China. Thought to promote health and longevity, it was exclusively reserved for Chinese royalty, hence the name ‘forbidden rice’.

How does it compare to other rice varieties?

Forbidden (black) rice packs a nutrient punch when compared to brown, white, and wild rice varieties. A 100g serve of cooked black rice contains almost half the daily recommended intake for magnesium. It is also high in protein, fibre, iron and zinc which are essential for energy production and immune function.

Per 100g

Kj Protein Carbs Fibre Key Minerals
Black Rice 648 5g 31g 3.4g Iron 1.8mg
Magnesium 143mg
Zinc 2.02mg
Wild Rice 425 4g 19.5g 1.8g Iron 0.6mg
Magnesium 32mg
Zinc 1.34mg
Brown Rice 639 2.9g 31.8g 1.5g Iron 0.5mg
Magnesium 49mg
Zinc 0.90mg
White Rice 671 2.7g 36g 1g Iron 0.61mg
Magnesium 12mg
Zinc 0.46mg

What are the health benefits?

In addition to supporting energy production and immune health, black rice is also known to assist with digestive and cardiovascular health, weight loss, detoxification, inflammation, and prevention of diseases including diabetes and cancer.

Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular disease is a growing health issue in Australia, making it even more important to eat foods that protect heart health. High cholesterol has a key role in the development of heart disease and is associated with the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries. Overtime atherosclerotic plaques lead to arterial blockages causing heart attack and stroke.

The hull of the black rice grain contains the highest known levels of a potent antioxidant called anthocyanin.  Studies have found anthocyanin prevents the development of atherosclerotic plaques and heart disease by significantly reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Antioxidant Action

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that damage our cells and DNA through a process called oxidization. Free radicals are by-products of the numerous biochemical reactions that occur in our body. Exposure to tobacco smoke, fried foods, pesticides and other environmental toxins escalates free radical production, increasing the risk of cancer and other disease.

Antioxidants prevent oxidization and cellular damage by bonding to free radicals and neutralising them. Black rice is rich in antioxidants including anthocyanin and Vitamin E which have been correlated with protection against cancer and heart disease, improved brain function, reduced inflammation and maintenance of eye, skin and immune health.

Digestive Health

Black rice is a great source of dietary fibre, containing around 3 grams per half cup serving. Fibre is an essential nutrient for supporting digestive function and detoxification processes. It binds to toxins in your digestive system and promotes the efficient removal of waste.

Fibre can prevent constipation and diarrhoea by drawing water into the intestinal tract and adding bulk to your stool. Studies also suggest fibre plays a role in reducing flatulence and bloating by helping to maintain a healthy gut microbiota.

Weight Management & Diabetes Prevention

Eating whole grains such as black rice can assist in maintaining a healthy weight and preventing diabetes. The high fibre content and other nutrients in black rice increase feelings of saiety, making you feel fuller for longer and preventing overeating.

Research also suggests that substituting refined grains such as white rice, white bread, and pasta with whole grains like black rice may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. The higher fibre content in whole grains slows down sugar absorption, helping to regulate blood glucose and prevent insulin resistance.

Where can I get it?

Forbidden rice (or black rice) is readily available through most local health food stores and supermarkets. Although it costs a few more dollars than other rice varieties the health benefits are definitely worth the extra investment.

Please note that forbidden rice is different to wild rice which has a longer, slightly lighter coloured grain. Although wild rice doesn’t have the full nutritional benefits of black rice, it’s a great alternative if black rice isn’t available.

How do I prep it?

Black rice is a whole grain, which means it still contains the tough outer hull. Although it isn’t absolutely necessary, I recommend you soak the black rice overnight before cooking. Soaking whole grains breaks down some of the harder to digest proteins and also halves the cooking time. Soaking is also important for removing phytic acid, a naturally occurring substance which can inhibit mineral absorption. This ensures you get the most nutrition from your meal.

Black rice should be cooked with 2 cups of water to every 1 cup of rice, and typically takes about 20 – 30 minutes to cook if it has been pre-soaked, or 50-60 minutes if you prefer not to soak it.

Got any recipes?

Black rice is a perfect substitute for any rice based recipe, in fact try it in our tofu poke bowl recipe. It has a slightly nutty, more earthy flavour than other rice varieties so it makes the perfect addition to salads. Black rice can also make a super yummy breakfast. Just mix a 1/2 cup of black rice with fresh fruit and coconut milk!

If you have any recipes you want to share, please comment below!

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